- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Profile Books (6 Sept. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846685672
- ISBN-13: 978-1846685675
- Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 3.2 x 20.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 281,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling Paperback – 6 Sep 2012
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Praise for The Story of English in 100 Words:
'Crystal's book is full of distractions and delights(Daily Express)
Delicious revelations ... Crystal does an excellent job (Independent on Sunday)
One of [Crystal's] best ... it builds gradually into a kind of linguistic tapestry, packed with abstruse information, wonderfully readable (Spectator)
Entertaining ... Crystal's many examples show that the development of English spelling is as random, unsystematic and anomalous as the British constitution. English spelling is as rich a mixture of anachronism, privilege and fashion as the House of Lords (Daisy Goodwin Sunday Times)
A prolific author...he can write with authority on trends in the spelling of rhubarb and indeed on the history of the spelling of any tricky word you care to mention. For him, the patterns are clear... highly entertaining. (Observer)
Spectacular (Readers Digest)
A prolific author...highly entertaining to read (Nicholas Clee Observer)
This masterly book is a deft guide with a light touch (Harry Mount TLS)
A spelling book with a difference (Yorkshire Gazette and Herald)
Crystal's splendid book, the latest in a long line by this prolific language truffler, proceeds chronologically, deep in learning and characteristically light on its feet. (Marcus Berkmann Daily Mail)
A Must Read...An entertaining and fascinating study of how English spelling became so wildly inconsistent. (Sunday Times)
The chaotic yet enthralling story of British spelling through the ages (Bookseller)
Wonderfully erudite but entertaining (Saga)
An enlightening tour of English spelling that untangles 'stationery' from 'stationary' - and explains why the 'i before e except after c' rule is so misleadingSee all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
It's refreshing to read Crystal's passion for such a topic.
you're expressing rather than how you're expressing it. Once you start reading this book it really is hard to put down. Behind the (odd and quirky) spelling of a lot of words the author gives fascinating and logical reasons why certain words are spelt the way they are. Not only the spelling but also the pronunciation. If you are at all interested in the English language buy it.
I have only one criticism and one 'niggle'. The criticism is that I was always waiting in vain for a chapter on the lack of diacritics, i.e. accents, in English. In Portuguese, whenever the stress is anywhere other than on the penultimate syllable, this is indicated by an accent. Hence 'cágado' (tortoise)is very different from 'cagado' (taboo: 'covered in excrement'). Meanwhile, students of English are left unaided to cope not only with the vagaries of English spelling but its vagaries of stress, e.g. 'famous/infamous'; 'advert/
advertisement'. In a book purporting to deal with the oddities of English written forms, this seems to me to be an omission. One may argue that diacritics do not actually affect spelling. But this to ignore the fact that the purpose of writing is essentially (with the possible exception of essay-writing for exams) to communicate something that will be read, either aloud or silently. Either way, in English a mystifying arrangement of letters is compounded by a total lack of information regarding syllable stress.
Oh yes, my niggle. I take issue with Prof.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this book absolutely wonderful. I have often wondered about the apparent anomalies in English spelling, why two words spelt the same can have different meanings or words... Read morePublished 4 months ago by evergreen
A very comprehensive book but, for me at least, not very readable.
Lots of information but turning each page became an effort. Read more
A very readable and informative volume that illuminates a complex issue.Published 13 months ago by Steve
I love the author's easy to understand explanations and his obvious life long enthusiasm for the evolution of the English language. Well worth the read and is decent on Kindle too.Published 20 months ago by Middle aged spread
Buy it, read it, if you have any interest in our language. Somewhat dry, but altogether fascinating.Published 21 months ago by Timothy Hammond